Noticing a blister in your cat's ear can be concerning, and sometimes it is a sign of a deeper medical issue. Our Pfennig Lane Animal Hospital veterinarians discuss aural hematoma and when surgery is needed to treat them.
What Is An Aural Hematoma?
An aural hematoma, also called ear hematoma, is a blood blister that develops within the cartilage and skin of your cat's ear.
Certain injuries and trauma can cause aural hematoma in cats, and one common cause is trauma from the cat excessively scratching its ear. The trauma to the ear causes the small blood vessels in the pinna (the ear flap) to break and leak internally causing blood-filled swelling.
This condition is commonly seen in cats that suffer from chronic ear infections that cause them to frequently scratch and paw at their ears. Ear infections in cats are commonly seen in cats that suffer from untreated allergies that cause skin irritation.
What Does A Hematoma Look Like?
With an ear hematoma, your cat’s ear flap will be swollen. In severe cases, the whole ear flap may be affected and the weight of the blood may cause the ear flap to droop or hang lower than it usually does.
Hematomas can feel firm or squishy to the touch depending on their size and location. They are often painful and your cat will probably not want to have its ear touched.
Cat Ear Hematoma Surgery
The best way to treat a hematoma is through a surgical procedure that has two goals: to drain the hematoma and then prevent it from forming again. There are a few different techniques a veterinarian will use based on their personal preference, but the overview of the surgery is the same.
To begin, the hematoma will be surgically drained and any blood clots will be removed. Next, the vet will remove the empty or "dead" space in your cat's ear flap that was filling with blood. This is done by putting numerous sutures through the ear to promote scar tissue formation and reattach the cartilage to the skin.
Cat Ear Hematoma Surgery Recovery
The healing time for hematoma removal is about two weeks.
While your cat may be sore for the first few days following surgery, your vet will give you pet-friendly medications and inflammation medicine to help. They will also provide antibiotics if needed.
Your cat may have a drainage tube placed in its ear following surgery to help with healing. This will be removed by your vet 3 - 14 days following the procedure. They will also likely be given an e-collar or Elizabethan collar to prevent them from scratching at their ears while they heal.
Be sure to follow your vet's instructions on proper home care and monitor your cat's ear for signs of infection, such as could smelling discharge or swelling that doesn't appear to be going down.
Preventing Further Hematomas
Your cat is likely to resume scratching and irritating the hematoma site if the underlying cause of the hematoma is not treated. The root cause should be identified and treated in order to prevent blisters from returning.
Be sure to follow up with your veterinarian so they can perform the appropriate diagnostic tests to get to the bottom of your cat's ear condition.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.